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  • Sajda Jaward

Eco Friday>>>Mexico; The most dangerous country for environmentalists

Picture Credit: NBC News Website

Mexico is a country with historic sites, breathtaking views, world-class cities, mariachi music, and tortillas. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant nation, which boasts a culture that is well known to all. Mexico offers year-round warm temperatures and a variety of breathtaking landscapes too.

On the other hand, Mexico is the nation where environmentalists face the most risk. According to NBC it has been lived by this indigenous community. 'Rogelio Rosales Contreras' eyes darkened as he related how his family and the indigenous community in the state of Jalisco's Ayotitlán were brutally attacked when they protested local mining operations and fought to protect their territory.

The case of Ayotitlán and others from different parts of Latin America are included in "Decade of Defiance: Ten years of reporting land and environmental activism worldwide," the most recent report by ‘Global Witness’, on the rise in violence against environmental activists.

According to the research, there have been 1,733 recorded killings of environmental activists in the last ten years, or one every two days. Mexico experienced the highest number of murders ever recorded in 2021, with 54 fatalities, up from 30 the year before.

At least eight members of the Yaqui Indigenous group, who made up more than a third of the forced disappearances, were among the more than 40% of Indigenous people who were killed.

Rosales Contreras in Ayotitlán spoke about the death of José Santos Isaac Chávez, a Nahua-Otomi leader and lawyer who was the sole candidate in a local election to resist a mine in the Sierra de Manantlán, a region on the border of Jalisco and Colima.

Governments were asked by Global Witness to better protect activists by upholding the law, particularly in regards to the Indigenous population, and to demand accountability from corporations doing business in these areas.

The world's most dangerous region is Latin America. Latin America was the deadliest region in 2021, accounting for more than 75 percent of all attacks against environmental activists.

Another Ayotitlán activist, Higinio Trinidad de la Cruz said: "Before, we heard about the attacks from media reports and statistics, but now that we are actively engaged in the fight to protect our indigenous communities, we see them ourselves. Threats to stop the exploitation of the resources we defend have made me a victim."

Because of restrictions on the news media and a lack of independent control, it is challenging to ascertain the situation surrounding activists in many nations. Many environmentalists are nevertheless dedicated to protect their resources and land in spite of the dangers.

“From when you’re a kid, they teach you that you have to fight for the interests of the tribe, the water, the land,” said Mr. Jiménez, the Yaqui activist. “We keep going with the people, the people are the ones who make us strong.”

Picture Credit: The New York Times Website

October 21st 2022| 09:00 AM

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